HOLLAND – The corner of Eighth Street and College Avenue became a gastronomic empire on Tuesday evening.
New Holland Brewing Company hosted “Rocktoberfest,” a star-studded event featuring a five-course meal with beer and music pairings curated by celebrity chefs and beer experts. The festivities were a benefit for Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Seventy five guests were treated to the sold-out feast for the senses.
In addition to the usual theme of pairing a food with a drink, live music by The Schrock Brothers band accompanied each course. While each dish was being served, they played a song chosen by the chef who created it.
New Holland Chef Dale Beaubien helped shape the monumental event.
“We started out wanting to showcase what the chefs in Holland can do, and we ended up with something far from it,” said Beaubien. “A lot of those guys had moved on or had scheduling issues. We planned it far enough in the future that we were like ‘Let’s get some of our other friends around’ and then it just happened.”
The chemistry of those involved was noticeable, and conversations observed between participants were nearly reverent.
The evening began with a cocktail reception with curation done by Beervangelist Fred Bueltmann, Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle and Partner of New Holland Brewing Company. Bueltmann is also the author of “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy”. He chose The Band’s “Ophelia” to be played while serving a Manhattan made with Zeppelin Bend whiskey, a vermouth made from Fenn Valley Pinot Noir, Michigan honey, lavender, and more.
The meal unfolded seamlessly, moving at a pace that allowed for immersion in the moments of bliss upon taking the first bite and sip of each sublime pairing as its song played in the background.
The first course of sautéed blood pudding was served with Poet Oatmeal Stout and Rick James’s “Cold Blooded,” as chosen by Chef Brandon Johns of Grange in Ann Arbor. At Grange, Johns is known for creating unique whole-animal dishes using locally sourced ingredients.
Home turf Chef Beaubien’s turkey tamale was served with The Carhartt Woodsman, a barrel-aged Pale Ale, and “Tres Hombres” by ZZ Top in the second course. Winter squash and Mayocoba beans complemented the mildly spiced tamale.
Chef Matthew Millar, a 20-year veteran in the West Michigan restaurant scene, chose “Eat a Peach” by The Allman Brothers to accompany the third course of smoked magret duck with spiced peach butter and Into The Rabbit Hole Maibock. Millar’s latest project, The Southerner, is located in Saugatuck.
The Rolling Stones’s “Goat’s Head Soup” title partially described course four—a goat combination of knackwurst, slow-cooked leg, smoked loin, and jus by Chef Paul Virant, a legend of the Chicago-area restaurant scene. Virant’s beer choice was uniquely tied into the evening as well. Schrocktoberfest, a Michigan-grown Oktoberfest Lager, was brewed in the New Holland pub with the band earlier this year.
Course five was a very indulgent dessert manifested from dark chocolate, cocoa butter, fermented chili, orange, and coriander by Chef Matt Pietsch of Salt of the Earth in Fennville. This was paired with a Flight of the Dragons presentation: three snifters of Dragon’s Milk including the original, a coffee-infused version, and a rum barrel-aged version. Hoots and Hellmouth’s “Watch Your Mouth” played along, as patrons raved about the spectacular finale.
Rounding out the curating and pairing panel were New Holland’s own Pub Brewer Steve “Bert” Berthel and UK beer expert Melissa Cole.
Berthel brings a wealth of beer and food knowledge to the table as a brewer in Michigan for nearly 20 years and a proponent of local agriculture. He is committed to locally sourcing 100 percent of all ingredients used in the pub brew house in 2016.
Cole is the author of “Let Me Tell You About Beer,” which has been hailed as the perfect beginner’s guide to beer. She was brought into the project by Fred Bueltmann.
“Fred and I have known each other for a number of years now. The more we’ve talked about beer and food and the way we want to change the way that people think about it and talk about it and compare them—that’s when we we really click.”
While she was in town she also participated in a collaboration brew— details of it will be revealed later.
Andrew Steiner, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s Communication Specialist, said, “We were thrilled to be able to have a presence at this event, it’s so special. We also think when people are eating, that’s a great time to talk to them about local hunger and about getting food to those who don’t have enough to eat.”
Proceeds from a silent auction also benefited the food bank. Prizes ranged from signed books to dinner packages.
Sponsored by New Holland Brewing
Photography: Steph Harding & Scott Meivogel